Boulder looks to extend paid parking, shuttle service at Chautauqua Park

City officials are recommending that Boulder council members move to extend the recently completed pilot program that introduced paid parking and a free shuttle service as a way to alleviate crowding issues at Chautauqua Park. The upcoming recommendation, which will be made formally during a council session Oct. 24, is informed by data that city staff believes indicates the pilot, which ran over the summer, was a success. And while city staff members interviewed Tuesday declined to share what, exactly, they'll be recommending, it seems those who were closely involved believe the program should be kept largely as it was during the pilot period: shuttling and paid parking specifically on weekends, when traffic to the park is more than double what it tends to be during the week. The city budgeted a little more than $200,000 for the three-month project. "If the city decides to do something similar, we'd be supportive," said Shelly Benford, interim director of the Colorado Chautauqua Association. "If you can take away that really intense weekend traffic, that's a big help." She added: "If it's working, we should just let it be for a few years. I think everyone's getting tired of dealing with this issue." Mayor Suzanne Jones said she looks forward to seeing complete data on the pilot and hearing from citizens, but that she could see the program continuing "along a similar line." "I think the scale we did it at was probably the right tool for the congestion problem," Jones said. During the June-August pilot period, areas at and surrounding Chautauqua saw paid parking for the first time, at a rate of $2.50 per hour — double what it costs to park in public spaces elsewhere in the city. The revenue brought in from that program covered the majority of the cost to run a free shuttle for park visitors, which made stops at satellite lots downtown, at the University of Colorado and at New Vista High School. A survey of 335 people, conducted by the city, showed that 57 percent of respondents had a "good" or "very good" experience with the pilot. Data released by the city shows that half of respondents reported using the shuttle instead of parking. Overall, there was an average decrease of 20 percent in cars parked in the residential areas near the park. One of the primary goals of the pilot was to reduce traffic and parking demand on those side streets closest to Chautauqua. Amanda Bevis, a project coordinator for the city, said she was surprised by some of the data collected, including one figure that shows the shuttles saw 900 daily boardings on average. The city had projected the number would be closer to 250. "We don't have much reason to change a lot of the details of the program because of the data collected, the stakeholder debrief and the internal staff reviews we've done about the pilot," Bevis said. Jones said the generally positive response to the project should encourage the city to not be "chicken" about trying new projects. "We appreciate it when businesses are innovative and they take reasonable risks to try new things, and I think local government should be willing to do the same," Jones said. "The Chautauqua pilot is an example of that." She added that the city should look to the pilot to inspire thinking about how shuttle programs might help relieve congestion elsewhere in the city. "The notion of shuttles for high-use areas around town has a lot of merit beyond just open space," Jones said. Alex Burness: 303-473-1389, or


Wednesday, October 11, 2017


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